Question: To describe my physical appearance, I would say that I am husky. It's such a strange term. Do you know how it came about? -- K.N., San Jose, Calif.

Answer: In all my searches for the origins of the term, this one seems the most straightforward and fascinating: The husky dog was bred specifically for its ruggedness and strength. Although originally called "uskimi" by North Canadian Indians, the word was mispronounced as "husky." The term was first applied to the men who trapped in the north county. These men were tough, just like their dogs. Both man and dog were able to survive under grueling conditions. The term spread, and eventually it was applied to any man of large stature.

Q: I've always believed that the Great Wall of China was the only man-made structure visible from the moon. I've since been told it's not true. What do you say? -- Y.R.N., Portland, Maine

A: The myth was given support by the game Trivial Pursuit, which said the wall could be seen from the moon. In truth, nothing man-made can be seen from the moon.

Q: Growing up, the term "WILCO" was popu lar to mean "OK, I'll do it." I'm sure it was a radio term, but I've often won dered what it meant. -- D.F., Chandler, Ariz.

A: "WILCO" is a radio term that means "will comply."

Q: One of my favorite movies is "Back to the Future." I read that a re frigerator was to play an important part in the movie. I've seen the movie several times, but I've never noticed a refrig erator. Why? -- I.R.B., Camp Hill, Pa.


A: Originally, a refrigerator was to be the time machine in the 1985 film, starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. However, the director, Robert Zemeckis, fearing a rash of children locking themselves in refrigerators, changed the time machine to a DeLorean automobile. Personally, I'm glad he did.

Q: Supposedly there are two towns named after Lewis and Clark that are side by side. I can't find them on the map. Can you help? -- H.T., Dover, Del.

A: Get out your map and locate the Snake River, which separates Idaho and Washington. Move along it, and you will come across Lewiston, Idaho, and Clarkston, Wash. Lewiston was one of the many campsites of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.

Q: I remember an actor named Duke K-something. He played a Polynesian chief in several movies. Do you know his name? -- D.N., Flagstaff, Ariz.

A: You're thinking of Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku. He was born on Aug. 24, 1890, and he gained worldwide recognition for his Olympic swimming medals in 1912, 1920 and 1924.

Kahanamoku appeared in several films as an extra and a character actor. However, water was his passion. He left Hollywood to promote the new sport of surfing. Duke Kahanamoku is in the Swimming Hall of Fame, the Surfing Hall of Fame and the Olympics Hall of Fame. He served as sheriff of Honolulu from 1932 to 1961. He died Jan. 22, 1968.

Q: What was Peter Sellers' birth name? -- J.Z., Stuart, Fla.

A: The name listed on Sellers' birth certificate is Richard Henry Sellers. However, his parents called him Peter from the very beginning in memory of his older brother, who was stillborn.

Q: When did Frank Si natra begin singing with the Tommy Dorsey Or chestra? -- I.C., Union City, N.J.

A: Sinatra made his first recording with the band in February 1940. After that, he was their top singer.

Q: A sportscaster once referred to Cy Young Award-winner Orel Hersh iser as Eagle Hershiser. Why "Eagle"? -- J.T., Butler, Pa.

A: "Orel" is Russian for "eagle."

Q: Who gave the Beat les their name? Why "Beatles"? -- E.N.W., Crestview, Fla.

A: One of the original band members, Stuart Sutcliffe, came up with the name Beetles as an homage to Buddy Holly and the Crickets. The band liked the name, but not the spelling.

By the way, it was Stu's girlfriend Astrid Kirchherr who is credited for the Beatles' mop top hairstyle. She cut Stu's and George's hair, and the others quickly adopted the distinctive coif. Sutcliffe left the band before they became famous. He died in 1962 at age 21 due to a brain hemorrhage.

Q: One of my heroes is Frank Oz, puppeteer of "The Muppet Show." I un derstand he was in the movie "The Empire Strikes Back." What role did he play? -- C.J.L., Lubbock, Texas

A: Oz, creator of Miss Piggy and Fozzi Bear, played Yoda in both "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) and "The Return of the Jedi" (1983). Oz was also in "An American Werewolf in London" (1981) and "Spies Like Us" (1985).

Q: Is it true Milton Berle appeared in an ad for Buster Brown shoes as a child? -- K.G., Dickson, Tenn.

A: It is. Berle started life as Milton Berlinger in 1908. His mother was described as a classic stage mother, and she pushed her son into show business. She entered Berle in a Charlie Chaplin contest at age 5, which led to him becoming a "Buster Brown Boy," advertising a line of children's shoes.

Under the guidance of his mother, Berle pursued a career in entertainment. He became a star on stage, radio, the big screen and television. He was known as Mr. Television, Uncle Miltie, Mr. Entertainment and Mr. Show Business. He died in 2002.

Q: I have watched "The Lawrence Welk Show" for years. When did he pass away and at what age? What caused his death? -- L.D.P., St. Peter, Minn.

A: Lawrence Welk died from pneumonia on May 17, 1992. He was 89 years old.

Q: I served aboard the USS Dyess DD-880 from 1952 to 1956. It was built in Texas. Can you tell me its fate? I've heard several versions. -- G.L., Brazoria, Texas

A: The USS Dyess was built in Orange, Texas, by the Consolidated Steel Corp. It was commissioned on May 21, 1945, and decommissioned Jan. 27, 1981. A month later, it was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register. From there, the ship's fate is sketchy. Some say it went to Greece in July 1981 and was used for spare parts. Others say the ship was scrapped in Brooklyn, and the spare parts were sent to Greece.

Visit the ship's website at You can learn the history of the Dyess, reunion dates and a lot more.

Q: In the 1970s, Eliza beth Taylor and Richard Burton starred in a film about divorce. One part of the movie was from the woman's viewpoint, and the other was from the man's perspective. Do you have any idea what the name of this movie is? -- H.G., Mansfield, Ohio

A: "Divorce His, Divorce Hers" was a made-for-TV movie released in February 1973. It is available on DVD.

Q: Who starred in the movie 1968 movie "The Producers"? -- B.F., Santa Clarita, Calif.

A: Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder starred in "The Producers," which was written and directed by Mel Brooks.

Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.